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Who's Training Who?
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Who's Training Who?

We owners like to think that where our horses are concerned, we are the ones doing the training and calling the shots. But is that really the case?

Take Tony for example. Tony the Pony, that is. Tony's owner thinks she's the boss at all times and frequently tells him so as she brings him his feed; packed of course with priceless vitamins and luxury treats all mixed lovingly into the ludicrously expensive coarse mix he prefers. Tony's owner has spent this week's wages at the feed merchant and on the vet's bill for his annual vaccinations, so she'll just be having a Snickers bar for her tea tonight.

As the rain lashes down and the wind reaches gale force 9, Tony watches calmly from the shelter of his cosy stable as his 'boss' staggers across the yard in her leaking wellies bent double under the weight of a huge hay net and two overflowing water buckets. Wiping rain water and streaming mascara from her tired eyes she fusses with his brand new, super-deluxe duvet rug, tidies his pristine bed (again) and pauses to get her breath back before plunging back into the raging tempest to manhandle a wheelbarrow full of droppings and wet straw half a mile through the mud to the muck heap. Tony knows that his owner works long and hard in her tedious office job, never buys clothes for herself and has no social life in order to wait on him hand and foot. Ah yes, he reflects; she is indeed the 'boss'.

Although Tony loves his owner, (so long as she brings his feeds on time and provides him with copious quantities of treats and carrots), he does rather need his personal space and she does have an unfortunate habit of forgetting her manners where this is concerned. Tony finds this particularly irksome when he is enjoying his hay net and some much-needed 'me' time and his owner insists on interrupting him by skipping out his bed or picking out his feet. Barging her out of the way and upsetting the skip bucket can be an effective method of training her that this is not acceptable, especially if she's running late early in the mornings. If this fails, a strategically placed hoof on her toe works wonders, remembering of course to accompany this with an irresistibly cute expression of innocence and surprise as she hops around the stable cursing loudly. Tony knows that his owner will now have the whole day to reflect on her lack of manners as she nurses her throbbing toe.

Sometimes Tony's owner summons the vet for some trifling ailment like a bit of a cough or a tiny scratch; or horror of horrors – unexplained lameness. Tony hates the vet. He always smells of disinfectant and sick animals and seems to think he can just poke and prod and stick needles wherever he likes. The vet has clearly not been trained correctly by his own horse or he would never get away with such rudery.

Last time the vet came out Tony decided to give him a much needed lesson in manners. Unfortunately, the rolling eye and ears flat back combo failed to have much effect and neither did the bared teeth so Tony was forced to resort to more drastic measures. Having stamped firmly on the man's foot and removed a lump of skin from his arm, Tony executed a neat turn on the forehand thus presenting the vet with his backside before letting fly with both barrels. The vet yelled a word Tony had never heard before and only just made it over the stable door in time. Tony continued placidly munching on his haynet happy in the knowledge that the vet would not forget his lesson in stable manners in a hurry.

Tonight there seems to be an unseemly delay in the arrival of Tony's evening feed. He peers out into the typhoon, being careful not to get his nose wet in the process. Above the howling wind, Tony can just make out his owner's voice. It seems she's dawdling in the feed room chatting to his next door neighbour's owner.

Tony's poor empty tummy is rumbling but still his owner keeps him waiting. And after all the hours he's spent training her to come when he calls! He whinnies politely, just to chivvy her along. When that gets no response he ups the anti by rucking up his freshly laid bed and scraping his expensive new shoes on the concrete floor behind his stable door. This makes a hell of a racket and usually does the trick. Still nothing! Sometimes a stronger "aid" is required so Tony resorts to booting seven bells out of his stable door until the hinges are rattling fit to burst and flakes of paint start flying off like a snow storm. At last! Tony's tea arrives accompanied by much petting and abject apology from his well-trained owner.

Of course Tony's owner thinks she's trained him to come to her on demand by shouting his name or whistling a catchy little ditty from the field gate. Of course he always hurries up to her whickering in welcome, eager to gobble up the treat, carrot or juicy apple he knows she'll have brought for him. At this she always seems surprised and delighted and praises him over and over again, although Tony the Pony can't quite see that it's exactly rocket science!

Sound familiar?!

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  1. Rene Wright
    Rene Wright
    Voted. It's so not funny, but I can't help but to laugh nearly hysterically! I have known quite a few Tony the Pony's both small & large versions. A sad reality is that many who treat an equine like a "pet" turn them into a Tony.
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    1. autumnap
      autumnap
      Thank you! That piece was written with tongue firmly in cheek, but it is indeed sadly very true. I recall a girl some years ago who didn't insist that her horse stood quietly while she mounted up. One day it just wandered off dragging her along the floor and she broke her leg. I think that you can love your horse but there has to be mutual respect for safety reasons if nothing else. x
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  2. Michelle Jane
    Michelle Jane
    Why yes- been there done that! Our Romeo has us trained very well!
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    1. autumnap
      autumnap
      And that's before we get into the saddle of course ...! x
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  3. PonyGirl
    PonyGirl
    Very funny. Although this was written in fun, I had one horse who I think was a better people trainer than any of us were horse trainers. Now he wasn't spoiled- he was one of the two best ponies I've ever had. Daddy Rabbit was a huge help in handling the race horses. And he was very well mannered and behaved. But he did have a way of getting what he wanted. Wherever I had him stabled he always conned whoever was feeding to feed him first. Some people were slower learners than others, but Daddy Rabbit always prevailed in the end. He was a very long backed horse, and one day while I was cleaning the stall, he had an itch on his belly. Well, that's a difficult spot for even a short backed horse to reach- they have to really strain their necks, and pick up their back leg to reach it. So I stopped what I was doing and scratched the spot for "Dad". The next day I was cleaning the stall, and I suddenly could feel something staring at my back. I turned around and there's Daddy Rabbit, holding his back leg up, and looking all pitiful at his belly- so I scratched him again. Needless to say, this became a daily routine. Daddy Rabbit had successfully trained his human to take care of his needs. :D
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    1. autumnap
      autumnap
      Yes, they're not daft are they?! I had one who hated schooling and would spook really violently and take off with me every time we went into a schooling arena. I came off him a couple of times and became very wary of him for this reason. Out hacking he was absolutely bomb proof and nothing phased him, even heavy machinery or noisy motorbikes. Consequently, I resorted to only hacking him out - his training method worked a treat! x
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